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In Taiwan, reading is a cultural phenomenon

In Taiwan, reading is a cultural phenomenon
I don’t think I can ever cease to admire Taiwan as a country. I had loads of curiosity before I visited it & it hasn’t lessened a bit. I am still amazed, I am still surprised in many ways.
Today I will talk about the wonderful reading culture in Taiwan.

Despite being #1 country in electronics, despite the Taiwanese appetite for new technology and having one of the world’s largest hi-tech manufacturing centers, despite producing around 90% of the world’s laptops, the enthusiasm for the eBooks is very less here. Can you imagine the readers still prefer the printed books !

While in other countries bookstores have started closing down as they struggle to meet the challenges from digital rivals, in Taiwan the bookstores have become a cultural phenomenon.

In Taiwan reading is considered very cool. There is a huge culture around reading, and there’s still a huge gap between the number of printed and digital books sold. Isn’t it surprising? 🙂

People in Taipei do
many things by night. While some people get ready to hit the club, or a night market, others are on their way to a more unusual nocturnal hangout … a bookstore. The bookstores can mostly be found in cafes and malls.
You can see young and old sitting side-by-side on small steps, on the floor or around reading tables, deeply engrossed in hushed silence in their literary worlds. People come here hang out, to read, or just to kill time and meet friends. They sit in the bookstore café sipping hot chocolate, coffee or a drink and plan to spend the night gossiping.

But why here and not just a bar or restaurant? Going out to drink alcohol is very expensive, while reading books at the store is free. 😀

For example, The Eslite store in central Taipei is open 24 hours and has more night owl visitors than most Western bookstores could dream of during their daytime hours! It has hit upon a concept … mix literature with design, fashion, home styling, small cafes and restaurants. The concept has made the store a huge success with bookworms.

In some stores, books and products are displayed next to each other at the same table. Another 24-hour store has five floors, each dedicated to different categories such as fashion, music, food but the top floor is all about books.

There are many sculptures across the country to convey the lovely message. Isn’t it a cool way to promote book reading? 😀

On that note, if you want to travel places with me, I suggest you to join me on my Facebook travel page and Twitter.

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31 thoughts on “In Taiwan, reading is a cultural phenomenon”

  1. Appreciated. And I remember yesterday Chetan Bhagat was on television at ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’. He also suggested to read books.
    But it depends person to person. I love to travel & write more but those who have reading habit – it is good for sure.

  2. Tushar,
    Whether people like to write or not, they certainly read. It does not matter what…. probably browse net or Facebook or a physical book. It is that habit which the Taiwanese govt tried to tap & been successful. 🙂

  3. Wow…what a beautiful culture…wish every country would practice this…but due to the advancement in technology everyone nowadays use mobile devices for reading…but me, reading a book (hardcopy) has a totally different feeling than reading sofcopy(s).

  4. You have to love a country where reading is cool. I have to admit to being a convert to electronic books though, I still enjoy reading, they just simplify and minimise clutter and of course I can always have a whole library in my bag.

  5. Sounds like my kind of place! I love reading a ‘real’ book. I do find it fascinating, but not surprising, that e-books aren’t as popular here. I think there is a cultural shift towards traditional arts in many places. I also love that they would prefer to hang out in a bookstore than go to a bar. I think I’d fit right in!

  6. You really captured the way of life in Taiwan. It seems to be so friendly and family oriented. I didn’t realize that they produced 90% of laptops for the world. That’s huge!

  7. I would have never guessed because like you said the image is one of a technologically savvy country. You’d think e-Books would be all the rage. Either way, more cultures could use this love for reading as a positive example. And, I just love that mailbox with the person reading!

  8. This is so cool Nisha. I run a book chat on twitter and am very much pro-physical books so you can imagine how happy I am to read this. A 24 Hour bookshop is nothing but a dream for us bibliophiles. Thanks for all the information and also for linking books with travel, something I too love to do.

  9. There once was a time where most everybody read a lot. I am glad to see some cultures still do. I think with the advent of immediate information and hundreds of choices of tv channels, video games and internet we lost the art of just picking up a good book and reading it.

  10. Ha, wow! That was really interesting thank you. Bet all that reading makes them great story tellers! It’s wonderful to see something so wholesome, being seen as cool, and such a big part of a culture. Would love to travel there 😉 Thank you for the inspiration!

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